18 November 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme- one of the bloodiest battles in human history, and one that has come to define our mental image of the First World War. Almost a million men were killed or wounded at the Somme, and one of them was the first employee of the London Museum, Maurice Edgar Read.
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The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
Looking after London’s ghosts…
When I first started working at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive I was told there was a ghost in our metal store. More Casper than Blair Witch, the ghost allegedly helped you find objects that had been ‘misplaced’. Sadly, I’ve never seen this ghost, but with 200,000 boxes containing millions of fragments of London’s history, I think it fair to say the ghosts of London’s past sit on our shelves.
London Street Views 1840
New to London? Here for business or perhaps a little shopping? Looking for a specific building? These days we might use the internet or our smartphones to find the right places and navigate around the city, technology of which the Victorian visitor to London could only dream.